The Spirit and the Body, by Witness Lee

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At this point, I would like to say a word about mutuality. In verse 25 Paul says, "The members should have mutual care one for another" (Gk.). In the Body we must have a mutual care for one another. Paul goes on to say, "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it" (v. 26). This is mutual care. We need to learn to have such a mutual care not only in our private life, home life, and daily life, but also in the meetings. I need to care for you, and you need to care for me. If I speak often and you do not speak at all, it is an indication that you do not care for me. To exercise mutual care means to speak in the meetings. If you speak in the meetings, it means you have mercy on me. Often the elders are cruel and merciless to me, for they sit in the meeting and expect me to do everything. Thus, I have frequently said, "Brothers, please be merciful to me and do something. Suppose we are members of a team. If I am the only one who plays in the game and you do not play, you are very cruel to me. But if you have mercy on me, you will care for me."

Those who do not function in the meetings are cruel; they have no mercy on others. Some brothers desire to be elders. Because they have never been an elder, the thought of eldership is so pleasant to them. But if they were to get into the yoke of eldership, they would see how demanding it is. For this reason, many elders desire to be released from the yoke of eldership. Most of the saints in the churches are cruel and merciless to the elders in that they do not help to bear the burden in the meetings. In the meetings, they allow the whole burden, perhaps many tons in weight, to rest upon the elders. Some saints seem to have even made a secret agreement not to alleviate the suffering of the elders. Perhaps an elder’s wife is the only one who has mercy on him. Therefore, the elders suffer in the meetings. In some meetings the elders bear such a heavy burden that they are slaughtered. This indicates the lack of mutual care.

However, sometimes the elders do not exercise mutual care either, for they may dominate the meeting and maneuver it. Although some elders are suffering, others are enjoying their maneuvering of the meeting. All the saints are little "lambs," but these elders are big "donkeys." This is a very serious matter, because such maneuvering annuls the Body life. Instead of the Body life, there is the display of the activity of one "donkey." Once again we see that for the practicality of the Body life we must exercise mutual care.

Often in the meetings I have had the burden to call a hymn or to offer praise or a prayer. But because I was caring for others, I did not do so. I did not want to maneuver the meeting or be a "donkey" among "lambs." Some elders, however, are such big "donkeys" that in the meeting you can see no one but them. This is a sign of the absence of mutual care. When the Body is manifested in a church meeting in a practical way, the mutual care will be seen. Both in our private life and in our meeting life, we must practice this mutual care. We must care for others and create a situation which encourages all to function. Then we shall have the Body life in a practical way.

(The Spirit and the Body, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)